Ever since actress Katie Holmes announced her plans last week to divorce superstar husband Tom Cruise after five years of marriage, speculation has swirled that Cruise’s religion, Scientology, might be the driving force in the break up. Last Thursday, Holmes filed for divorce in a New York court citing “irreconcilable differences” and seeking sole legal custody of the couple’s sixyear-old daughter, Suri. Reports suggest that Holmes is seeking to prevent her daughter’s indoctrination into Church of Scientology.
We’ve all heard about Scientology thanks to celebrity members like Tom Cruise, John Travolta and Jason Lee. News Corp. chief exec. and media mogul Rupert Murdoch called Scientology, via twitter, a “very weird cult” and said there is “something creepy, maybe even evil, about these people.” So, besides being weird and creepy, exactly what is Scientology?
The Church of Scientology was founded in the 1950s by writer L. Ron Hubbard. Hubbard published a series of articles and a book called Dianetics, in which he detailed a new approach to mental health. His book became a best-seller and the success led him to establish a foundation that began training people in his techniques. In 1954, the first Church of Scientology opened in Los Angeles
At the core of the religion is the belief that humans have a reactive mind that responds to life’s traumas and keeps us from experiencing reality. In order to “clear” these traumas members of the religion undergo a process called “auditing” to find the root of it. The auditing process uses a device called an E-meter, which Scientologists say measures the body’s electric flow. An auditor asks sets or questions to help locate areas of spiritual distress and improve the person’s condition.
Auditing is said to identify spiritual distress from a person’s current life and from their past lives. Through his counseling technique, Hubbard encouraged people to enter a semi-trance like state and remember the experience of their birth and other past lives.
Auditing is done on adults and children alike and this might be what Katie Holmes is afraid of. The Village Voice released a report, in which they spoke with former Scientologists, and they suggest Holmes may be protecting Suri from something even more sinister.
In 1960, Hubbard introduced a policy of security checking, now called “sec checking” by Scientologists. Sec checking uses the E-meter as an interrogation device with a list of questions that a member is asked by an “ethics officer.” The purpose of sec checking is to make sure members weren’t hiding any hostilities towards the church. In 1961, Hubbard instituted a policy of sec checking children. This process can take place as early as six years old.
Some of the questions in Hubbard’s security check for children 6-12 years of age, published by the Village Voice, are:
What has somebody told you not to tell?
Have you ever made yourself sick (ill), or hurt yourself to make somebody sorry?
Have you ever gotten yourself dirty on purpose?
Have you ever refused to obey an order from someone you should obey?
Do you have a secret?
These questions by Hubbard beg the question: Did Katie Holmes know what she was getting herself into when she married Tom Cruise?
It appears not. Now, after having converted to Scientology before their marriage, Katie Holmes seems to be trying to distance herself from Cruise and the religion. She has not been seen at the Scientology Center in L.A. for months and she’s fired her old security team that was assigned to her by Cruise. She has fired her PR agent and hired the one she used before her marriage.
If she is trying to get out, she better have some good advisers. Ex-Scientologists say that the church resorts to isolation and blackmail to control its defectors.